Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Conversations over the vacation....

"I think I have blogger's block." I said, to no one in particular. *sigh*

"I know we said this as a joke, but what if we
really only get one snowfall the entire time we're in the Alps! We might as well be in...North Carolina or something." said Mr. French disgustedly.

(At the dinner table, talking about names.)
"C, what is Mommy's name? asks Mr. French.
"French." said C.
"No, that's her last name. Do you know what her first name is?"
"Honey." said C.
"That's right."

"Mommy, I know how medicine works!" said S.
"You do?" I said.
"Yeah. First the sick goes up, up, up. " he said moving his hand progressively up his chest towards his neck.
"Then, the medicine goes down, down, down." He moved his hand down from his neck.
"Then they crash!" he said as he clapped his hands together. "And they mix together and you get all better."
"Oh." I said, surprised at the logic.

"Hi, I'm just calling to postpone S's party on Friday. We're all sick." I said.
"Oh, no." She said sympathetically.
"Yeah, well, we all had colds earlier in the week. Then we all got conjunctivitis. We're on antibiotics, so we shouldn't be infectious tomorrow, but today S is throwing up. So, we'll have to do it another time. Maybe next week."
"Yeah. That sounds good." She said, probably thinking next week might be too soon.

"BOYS! Time for eye drops!" I call out.
"I can't want to." Said C in a tone that suggested 'I'd love to accommodate you, but I have a 'no eye drop policy' currently in effect'.
"Yes, you can." I said in a tone that suggested 'I'd love to accommodate you, but policy schmolicy.'

"I want to watch a movie." said S.
"Ok, honey, but are you going to throw up again? Do you still feel sick?" I ask.
"Ok. Make sure when you feel like you're going to throw up that you throw up in this bucket. Not on the couch. Okay?"
S nods his head. "I want to watch a movie."
"I know." I sigh. "Okay. If I tell you you can watch a movie, do you still feel sick?"

(Everyday of vacation starting Saturday night.)
"Mommy! Tomorrow we go to school?" C asked.
"No, sorry, honey. This is vacation. You're off for two whole weeks."
"Ohhh no. Why?"
"Because all the teachers need a break."
"What are we going to do?"
"Maybe we can do our own school here."

(The Sunday before vacation ends.)
"Tomorrow go to school Mom?"
"Yes, tomorrow you go to school."
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Tomorrow go to school, boys!"

(Monday morning, before Mom is out of bed.)
"It's time for school boys!"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Playing Pretend (a posting for the grandparents)

The boys like to pretend they are super-heroes.

They call themselves "Super-man" or "Incredible" or "Buzz Lightyear".

A more accurate description might be "Pillowcase boys".

(Notice the flying stance.)

(Boots complete the outfit!)

Once, Jonafinn asked me to tie a kitchen towel like a cape around his neck. Then he decided he also wanted a kitchen towel around his front like a bib. We called him "Captain Kitchen towel man". (Sorry, no pictures of that.)

He also has a "flying stance".

Usually he pretends to be "Buzz" and stands on his chair at the table, facing away from the table, puts his arms out in front like he's flying, and makes "flying noises". You kinda have to be there.

Did I tell you that this week started the "Vacances d'hiver"? Our two weeks off in February started early for the boys. Their school is moving to a new building and the teachers needed an extra day to move. So the boys were all home on Friday. C is very creative and loves to do arts and crafts. I was sitting at the kitchen table when he said, "Look at me Mom."

"Wow. That's cool. Is that your armor? Are you a soldier?"


I go back to reading again. Then a thought occurs to me.

"Wait a second. How is that sticking to you?"


"Ohhhhh. Oh, well."

Then everyone had to do it.

S is "defender of the alphabet".

Jonafinn is "stick a random paper on and call it a day".

C decided to get more creative and have armor for his arm. He had plans to make boots and leg armor, but thankfully, we ran out of glue.

As we say here, "Oh, well."

Friday, February 9, 2007

We need some Jonafinn stories...

J walks to school with his brothers every day.

Then he comes home and has another breakfast.

Just because he can.

Today he got out the bread and asked me (mostly with sounds and gestures) to cut it for him. Then he asked for something on top. I asked if he wanted butter. Unclear. I asked if he wanted, jelly. Unclear. I brought out the butter and the (just recently acquired) peanut butter to see if he wanted to try something new.

He said in the most pathetic tone, "Nooo." Then pointed towards the refrigerator.

"You want jelly?" I asked again.

He nodded.

I spread raspberry jam on his bread. I left him at the table to sort the laundry. When I came back, he asked me for another slice of bread. I picked up the knife and out of the corner of my eye I spied....

Do you see it? Way off in the corner where nobody is sitting...

Wasn't it nice of J to share his bread spread with raspberry jam with nobody so he could get another piece?


Today he also helped hang the clothes on the line to dry.

I was actually quite impressed. He did several things all by himself.


J has a little friend named Sydney. She is three. She talks like she's four or five at least. One day we were over at her house. Her sisters and J's brothers were all in another room watching a movie. J had been following Sydney between that room and the one all the grown-ups were in all evening. At one point, Sydney's Dad asked her what her favorite movie is.

She smiled and said in a very grown-up voice, "Oh, Daddy! You know what my favorite movie is! It's Mary Poppins! I love the songs in Mary Poppins....." She goes on dramatically for a paragraph.

When she stops to breathe, her Dad asked J what his favorite movie is.

J looks at him and just says, "Nope."

Without missing a beat, Sydney throws her hands in the air and exclaims, "He talks!"


J, otherwise known as Jonafinn to his brothers and others who cannot pronounce his name, has injured his head twice and required ER visits, since we've been here in France.

Recently her Mom was telling us, Sydney often stands up in her chair while at the dinner table and they always admonish her saying, "Sit down or you're going to fall and break your head."

The other day she stood up in her chair and they quickly scolded her, "Sit down."

Sydney interjected, "Or I fall down and break my Jonafinn?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Today we....

had a our first French family over for a meal. It was the same family we have been trying to have over for about a month or so. We were all too busy or sick to do it until today.

We decided to have a brunch (which, in French is called "brunch") since they have "littler" (which is not French and in English would be "smaller") kids than we do and they could get them back home for a nap, while still getting to enjoy a leisurely meal. I don't consider myself a great hostess. I have to really work to remember to put out things like napkins, forks, ....food. Actually, I usually remember the food but am hyper-critical of it, although I've learned to keep the comments to myself. I've also learned to try to make it as simple as possible (without succumbing to canned soup...yet).

The menu: I settled on egg strata and kept it simple by only putting cheese in it, no meat or vegetables. I added a side dish of oven-hash browned potatoes because I make them often and can usually count on them. I added onions and bits of bacon to make it more interesting. Then I thought I'd do a fruit salad. Then I thought about doing a spinach salad. Then I thought about adding some kind of bread. Maybe getting croissants at the bakery. In the end I decided we needed something more like a dessert and made a fruit tart. Then our guests volunteered to bring a salad, so I didn't need the spinach salad.

Like I said, I tend toward being hyper-critical of any food I make for guests. I'm never like that in other people's homes, just my own (in case you're now worried about inviting us over). So, the potatoes could have been less mushy, but there was too much moisture in the oven because it's too small for all I had in there. The tart was okay. I used creme fraiche instead of sour cream to make the bottom layer and it was lacking something in the taste area (not necessarily because of the creme, it just needed something else in it). I was going to make lemon curd to brush on top of the fruit, but I ran out of time. The strata was tasty and the wife seemed the most interested in it, asking for the recipe and saying she'd never had anything like it. She brought a delicious carrot and corn salad. I sort of wished I'd made the spinach salad after all, for no other reason but to add a color outside of the yellow/orange/brown family. Oh, well. We all ate it and nobody died.


The most interesting part was the conversation. I got about half of it as Mr. French tried to speak in French most of the time and they, who speak English pretty well, spoke in English about half the time. They would correct Mr. French's French (I'm not sure they would've done this if we hadn't talked about it previously) and even argued amongst themselves what was correct. The topics ranged from the differences between our churches (or what we're used to in the US vs. theirs) to travel around France, Europe, and the US. They told us about interesting museums they'd been to in France. One in Caen, particularly caught my attention, as it was an historical museum about World War II. It starts with the events leading up to World War I and covers what was going on in the world at the time and on until the first Iraq War. It sounds fascinating. They were in the museum for five hours (I assume sans children). They said it was very expensive but worth it. They said it was, "fiftee euros."


"Oui, fiftee."

Then some children interrupted us. I think it must be 50 Euros because 15 doesn't sound abnormal for a museum. (But Mr. French thinks they said 15. So I don't know.)

In the end we had a good time. With all the French floating around, by the time they left, I felt like I couldn't even speak English very well. The wife invited me to come over to their home sometime to "practice" my French while the kids are in school. It's a great idea, once I actually have some French to practice.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Random Things you might not know about living in France

1. In our small town, if you pay money to go to the public indoor pool, the men must wear a speedo. No shorts allowed. The women must also wear a close-fitting garment with nothing hanging off like a skirt, t-shirt, or shorts. No exceptions for being raised American!

2. We don't have any apartment numbers in our building, or any I've seen. Our last name is on our door, on the buzzer at the entrance, and on the mail box outside of the building.

3. There is no school on Wednesdays for children middle school and younger. It's like a Saturday. There is a half day of school on Saturdays, about half the time.

4. No one has the same name in a certain region in France (or so I'm told). You can not name your child after his father. There are no "juniors" here. And it causes problems if you named your son after yourself and then you moved here. (Thankfully, we did not do that but we know people who did. They regret it.)

5. Cursive is taught in pre-school. Every sign or advertisement (that I've seen) that is hand-written, is in cursive.

6. However, last names are written in all caps, like this: John SMITH or SMITH, John. That way you always know which name is the pre-nom and which is the nom.

7. I also find it odd that in an almost completely secular society like France, with a few exceptions (bakeries and some restaurants), stores are all closed on Sundays.

8. People point at things (anything) with their middle finger (you know the one). When our children started doing this we corrected them, until we noticed that everyone at their school and our church did the same thing. Now we've just let it go.

9. There is a two hour lunch break at school from about 11:30-1:30 p.m. Most businesses are closed for at least 2 hours around the same time.

10. When you walk into an apartment building and walk up a half flight of stairs to the first floor that has apartments, you're on the ground floor. If you then walk up a full flight of stairs to the second floor with apartments, you're now on the first floor.

I'm sure there are more. Feel free to add your own in the comments.